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© 2019 by Salem Barker.  All Rights Reserved.

Exotic Woods

March 30, 2016

This month I acquired a very large (to me) supply of license harvested exotic woods. The majority of my works throughout my career have been made of the domestic species, mostly of what lives in my area of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. I've often shied away from exotic woods because of their very high cost and non assurance of contribution to extinction of rare species.  I've been complimented by several of my collectors that I am one of the best in the current world of wood art. I accept this humbly, but I should be proud enough to offer my sculptural creations in the most valuable of the world's plants. I do believe in my heart that God made me to be creative, and if I am to be one of the best in my trade, why would I avoid the best of the mediums that God created?  I will continue to use exotic woods until I receive true knowledge that my use any specific species is contributing to a detrimental issue. 

As it is, many of the woods I have pictured in the pile below are of the largest that these species will offer. This is because the trees died of old age, and only old growth trees can be considered for the markets. The largest market for rare woods is the furniture market, which has the highest waste of any wood working practice, being that much of the tree's mass is lost in search of straight and flat boards within it. When I create sculptural art, I use as much of the medium as possible. I literally keep buckets of small scraps of each piece I create, and save them for accents upon future works, or give them woodworker friends who make smaller items such as turnings.

It is often fear that holds us back from excelling at our endeavors. Wisdom needs knowledge, and my past decision to avoid valued wood species was not based on knowledge. I am thankful to be among the users of these woods.

Amidst the pile in my studio photo are red mallee burl, brown mallee burl, ebony, African Olive, bobinga, snakewood, cocobolo, lignum vitae, pink ivory, sheoke, rose murtyle, red gum burl, white top burl, and African rosewood.

 

 

 

 

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